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Open Access Research article

Preclinical students’ experiences in early clerkships after skills training partly offered in primary health care centers: a qualitative study from Indonesia

Doni Widyandana1*, Gerard Majoor2 and Albert Scherpbier2

Author Affiliations

1 Skills Laboratory and Department of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Gadjah Mada University, Farmako Street no 1, Sekip Utara, Jogjakarta, 55281, Indonesia

2 Institute for Education, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 60, 6229ER, Maastricht, The Netherlands

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BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:35  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-35

Published: 28 May 2012



Students may encounter difficulties when they have to apply clinical skills trained in their pre-clinical studies in clerkships. Early clinical exposure in the pre-clinical phase has been recommended to reduce these transition problems. The aim of this study is to explore differences in students' experiences during the first clerkships between students exclusively trained in a skills laboratory and peers for whom part of their skills training was substituted by early clinical experiences (ECE).


Thirty pre-clinical students trained clinical skills exclusively in a skills laboratory; 30 peers received part of their skills training in PHC centers. Within half a year after commencing their clerkships all 60 students shared their experiences in focus group discussions (FGDs). Verbatim transcripts of FGDs were analyzed using Atlas-Ti software.


Clerkship students who had participated in ECE in PHC centers felt better prepared to perform their clinical skills during the first clerkships than peers who had only practiced in a skills laboratory. ECE in PHC centers impacted positively in particular on students’ confidence, clinical reasoning, and interpersonal communication.


In the Indonesian setting ECE in PHC centers reduce difficulties commonly encountered by medical students in the first clerkships.

Clinical skills training; Early clinical experiences; Clerkships